medical patient on cell phone

Cell Phones Newest Weapon in Fight Against Pain

  • 2.9K

BOSTON, MA – Cell phones are now on the list of items previously thought to have no therapeutic benefit, which are now being researched heavily as a potential miracle.

Dr. Lakshmi Singh, an emergency physician and primary author on a recent paper researching wireless-device analgesia, tells of how she first noticed that cellphones might have a huge impact on patient perception of pain.

medical patient on cell phone
My 10/10 pain will return when my battery runs out

“I was working a shift once when this horrible case of abdominal pain came through,” she explains.  “It was a 17-year-old girl who told triage she had 10/10 pain all over her belly and that she hadn’t been able to eat all day.  I ran over to her room only to find her chatting on her cell phone with a friend about a boy in her class that she liked.  No moaning or groaning.  She looked truly comfortable.”

Dr. Singh decided to revisit the patient after the phone conversation was over, only to find her, yet again, using her phone, this time to access her Twitter account.

“There she was on her phone, looking comfortable, like she was in 0/10 pain.  When I know for a fact that it was 10/10 because she told triage.”

Dr. Singh recalls being asked to take a picture of the patient with the patient’s cell phone so she could Snapchat it to her friends.

“I’m telling you, a less-experienced doctor would have sent this girl home right then and there.  But I knew better.  I asked her to put her phone down, and after standing in the room with her for 10 minutes while she finished tweeting, I demanded the phone be put on the side table.  No sooner had it touched the tabletop than all of her pain came flooding back in full force and she was writhing around on the bed in agony.”

Dr. Singh describes a moment of epiphany, when she realized the patient’s cell phone had the power to control pain.

“All of a sudden all of these patient encounter memories came flooding back to me.  Patients whose comfort was immediately compromised once their cell phone conversations were over.  I asked around and talked to different colleagues who had experienced similar incidences over time, but they had just never quite put the pieces together like I had.  All of my colleagues had always assumed patients were being obnoxious or faking their pain when they would answer their phones casually during the interview.  It never occurred to them that these patients were self-medicating with what could turn out to be one of the best analgesics of our time: the cell phone.”

Research is still in progress, but Dr. Singh is convinced that this could provide some real answers to pain management in the future.  She is already planning a second project investigating the affect of sandwich therapy on suicidality in the ED.

Until then her ER will make sure they have various power cords and even backup cell phones and iPads for patients who come in with pain. c”We’ll just write a prescription for ‘cell phone PRN pain’ and send them home.”

  • Avatar

    Once a wide-eyed and idealistic physician in-training, Dr. Cokinsox McTavington had his soul crushed and subsequently hardened after roughly 3 and 1/2 shifts in the ED. Now, no longer giving even one shit, he’s turned into an oxycodone and Percocet dispensing machine seeking to rid the world of intractable lower back pain, while simultaneously keeping his Press Ganey scales sky-high. In short, he’s that bastard you always wished you could be, but never quite had the stones. In his spare time he keeps himself busy daydreaming about other careers, crying in the corner alone, and of course, writing for Gomerblog.

  • Show Comments

  • Avatar
    Ash Patil

    so true !!

  • Avatar

    I say it! And I have used both the mauled by a bear and burning alive analogies. And still their pain in a 10/10. Unbelievable.

  • Avatar
    Angie Pender

    Christiane Eisele….the missing link. You’re welcome.

  • Avatar
    Darlene Gregory

    I’ve said “0 is no pain and 10 would be like someone poured gasoline over your head and lit you on fire, what would your pain be rated?”. I still get “oh, definitely a 10,” when it’s clearly MAYBE a 2. Lol

  • Avatar
    Cathy Hamilton

    Sooo true!! Lol.

  • Avatar
    Kathryn Holston

    Distraction 101

  • Avatar
    Jennifer Pasquarello Radatti

    See…Cell phones are as addictive as narcotics

  • Avatar
    Conni Errickson Miller

    Good one!

  • Avatar
    Debbie Ann

    Obviously ppls pain is all in there head if a cellphone make them forget there pain i say throw away all the narcotics and stop using them

  • Avatar
    Bill N Kay Griffith

    oh yes…it works

  • Avatar
    Shelly-Ann Dinglehopper

    See it’s working

  • Avatar
    Jamie Callaghan

    I usually say to men who are rating their pain 10/10 if 0 is no pain and 10 is smacking your testicles between two bricks…….. I usually get “oh f***, God no it’s not that bad!!”

  • Avatar
    Sarah Baker

    I think that if anyone under 30 is unable to text and/or uninterested in texting, they should be triaged up – e.g. 24 year old, would be triaged as a level 3 based on presenting problem/vitals/etc, but unable to text – triaged as a level 2.

  • Avatar
    Shauna Bendix

    Mary Strowsky

  • Avatar
    Nicole Largent Cox

    This is SO true!!

  • Avatar
    Bill Mitsis

    More research needed. Generic “cellphone” treatment? I think we need to find out ASAP if iPhones or Android devices perform better as painkillers.

  • Avatar
    Veronica Nicole Fries

    I say on a scale of one to ten: ten is passing out. Their ten usually turns into a six or a seven, sometimes an eight, lol.

  • Avatar
    Veronica Nicole Fries

    True story.

  • Avatar
    Ananta Kolesky

    Sandy Crofts

  • Avatar
    Suji Idler

    It’s called the iphon-y effect

  • Avatar
    Betsy O’Herron Tolbert

    It’s like Cheetos and Mt Dew for nausea.

  • Avatar
    Lucky Linda Garner

    Have you ever noticed this phenomenon? Ashley Tate Gina Kumar Roberts Kimberly Wainwright-Morrison Jason Pingleton Jason Douglas Soard

  • Avatar
    Mary Sprague

    I can’t say it. .. but I SO want to….. If 0 is no pain at all and 10 is being mauled by bear, how would you rate your pain?

  • Avatar
    Adr Mick

    but youre legally required to treat my pain
    Flavia Nicorici

  • Avatar
    Rachel Hanson

    Did you also know that Hydromorphone is not nearly as effective as Dilaudid? That is what my patient told me. Well, diluted and given over SEVERAL minutes does kinda kill the buzz I guess.

  • Avatar
    Shannon Duey

    Hilarious but so true.

  • Avatar
    Jenna Nelson

    Chloe Abel Jacob Stephen

  • Avatar
    Clare Calogero
  • Avatar
    Kenji Hamanaka

    Unless that phone is set as a timer since last dilaudid dose.

  • Avatar
    Joanie Sapienza

    Hahahhahahahahahahhaa! It’s true!

  • Avatar
    Natasha Khan

    Kelsey Alyse

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

comment *

  • name *

  • email *

  • website *

You May Also Like


CPR Guidelines Made Even Simpler

4.4KSharesMouth-to-mouth resuscitation was replaced by only chest compression in 2008 after a slow de-emphasis ...

‘I Can’t Afford These $4 Meds!’ Says Patient with iPhone 6s Plus (Gold) & MacBook Air

19.2KSharesATHENS, GA – “I can’t afford these meds!” hospitalized patient Jason Redmond told his medical ...